Sweden And Indonesia Can Work Together In A Triple Helix Context

Interview with Dan Enstedt, President & CEO, Saab Asia Pacific on Saab's presence in Indonesia.

Can you brief us on Saab’s activities in Indonesia?

We have always had a strong product presence across the region stretching from Korea across to India. Our products have found favour with most countries in South East Asia and have stood the test of time. As our customers have become larger and their challenges have become more complex, we have established offices that take us closer to them. We opened our new office in Indonesia in 2013 and followed up with a programme to cooperate in the field of education.

The Indonesian armed forces have been customers for RBS 70 and Giraffe radars and we see a lot of developments across a wider spectrum of areas. Indonesia faces fairly unique challenges ranging from the geographic challenge of securing over 17,000 islands to being the guardians of one of the world’s most sensitive sea channel. There are threats of pirates, illegal fishing, logging and immigrants. All require affordable, high quality surveillance systems that are able to deliver results. For Indonesia, it is not merely a question of adding up the numbers required to police such a vast and complex land and ocean terrain. It is a question of how assets multiply capability through technology platforms. For example, data linking between land, air and sea assets result in the ability to synchronize information and deploy the best and fastest solution. Saab excels in such solutions which is possibly a reason that the Indonesia defence forces take so much interest in our products.

A more interesting parallel is in how Saab and Sweden created technology that was independent of large power dependence due to its unique political stance during the cold wars. Today, we see many parallels with Indonesia which straddles an area that is of interest to virtually all the super powers – all of which are strongly present in the immediate proximity. With Indonesia committed to creating a strong domestic defence industry, Saab sees itself a perfect partner that can enable creation of a domestic defence industry due to its inherent philosophy of industrial cooperation.

How does the Gripen meet the future requirements of Indonesian Air Force? Also, given its already mix of different types of aircraft, how does Gripen fit the Air Force’s need for synergies?

The Indonesian Air Force polices a very large area that includes +17,000 islands stretching over nearly 2 million square kilometres. The vast archipelago requires air power that has high operational availability, short time on the ground and the ability to perform multiple roles as situations can morph into threats and require intervention in a very short span of time. Most importantly, the country needs enough number of aircraft to guard borders that are, in a sense, open from all directions.

Effective Air Force capability requires high availability of aircraft, long time on station, short turn arounds, long ferry range and large combat radius. The country spends around 1% of its GDP on Defence so it would be looking at aircraft that are affordable, superior and have low operational cost. All these make the Gripen an ideal solution for Indonesia.

Gripen is the first of the new generation, multi-role fighter aircraft to enter operational service. Using the latest technology, Gripen is capable of performing an extensive range of air-to-air, air-to-surface and reconnaissance missions employing the latest weapons. The Gripen is an extremely capable fighter aircraft with true multi-role capability and is cost effective to operate over the long run, as opposed to the bigger twin-engined competitors. In a recent IHS Jane’s study of six aircraft, based on assessment from primary and secondary sources, it was concluded that estimated cost per flight hour (CPFH) of the Gripen is the lowest at $4,700.

Using the latest technology it is capable of performing an extensive range of air-to-air, air-to-surface and reconnaissance missions employing the latest weapons. Gripen is designed to meet the demands of existing and future threats, while simultaneously meeting strict requirements for flight safety, reliability, training efficiency and low operating costs.

The open design of the Gripen allows for full payload flexibility and a full range of weapon integration options.

The Gripen has demonstrated interoperability while flying missions with diverse aircraft both in NATO exercises and during surveillance missions over Libya. This would be of great use to the Indonesian Air Force with its mixed fleet structure.

Will Saab be investing in the civil sector as well?

Yes, Saab sees for itself a very large role in the civil sector.

The big challenge for Indonesia is to build capacity in critical infrastructure: Air traffic, Vessels traffic and port management, road and rail transportation. Sweden and Indonesia can together increase capacity on all aspects using technology as the key enabler. However, it is not simply a question of buying technology. The critical aspect is in building domestic capacity that will result in absorption of technology as well as creation of capability to manage and operate these systems along with the ability to create future platforms.

The road to this goal lies in the Triple Helix approach where companies, government and academic institutions work together. Sweden and Indonesia can work together in a triple helix context to build new capabilities and share innovations that will be the basis for the next generation of green and efficient airports, ports, rail and road transportations while creating efficient infrastructure.

Further, there are clear areas where Saab’s technology and solutions can make a big difference.

Take the port sector. As ships become bigger and bigger, port infrastructure and approaches have to be monitored continuously. While in the past, ships updated their charts based on the latest notices to mariners, ECDIS users can update their charts as frequent as information becomes available. These services will enable the larger ships to come in under conditions of haze, fog and reduced visibility because of rain. By making use of these modern technologies, Tanjung Priok and other Indonesian ports can compete successfully with other ports in the South East Asian region.

Second, take a look at the requirements for airport infrastructure. Indonesia currently has 57 airlines serving 400 domestic and international routes. Many of these airlines are growing at rapid rates. Lion Air has signed contracts over the last 3 years for over 500 new aircraft. Demand however is outstripping the available aviation capacity. Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta is currently serving 1,100 aircraft movements per day with over 60 million passengers per annum. Its capacity is only 22 million passengers. Saab offers a wide range of solutions designed to support the aviation industry in optimizing the different sectors of air transportation covering air traffic control, airline and airport operations management, and data integration and distribution.